IMPACT 0551: ELDERLIVE FOR THE ELDERLY – EDIFYING THE LIVES OF OUR PIONEERS
Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.
Kee Zhen Xian is a 17-year-old student at Victoria Junior College. Apart from YAC, he also actively participates in other volunteer projects such as planning and executing a number of online webinars in Fei Yue Community Services’ (FYCS) Intergenerational Learning Programme (ILP).
They impart skills and knowledge to seniors, such as online editing through Canva, as well as through “online tourism” to Japan, France, and Sri Lanka, where they would teach them about the countries’ language, culture, and history. Today he shares more about his project called Elderlive for Elderly!
What was your role within your YAC project?
I am the President of the project. My role is to give direction to the team, decide on the duties and responsibilities of different members, set goals and agendas, actively search and communicate with project partners, deciding on and execute the programs we planned to implement for our seniors.
What motivated you to join YAC?
As a Junior College (JC) Year 2 student, I took my A-Level Project Work examination last year, choosing to embark on a project that focused on alleviating senior loneliness. As I delved deeper into this issue, I came across so many heart-wrenching anecdotes of seniors plagued by loneliness. The consequences of senior loneliness terrified me. Living in a 3-generation household, I see my grandparents enjoying the pleasure of having people around them that they can connect with, people who shower them with care and show appreciation for them.
On one hand, I’m very fortunate that my grandparents have family and friends supporting them. On the other hand, I am deeply saddened that many seniors are suffering from senior loneliness, not being able to enjoy their golden years like my grandparents. Therefore, I was driven to implement a project to help seniors find their like-minded friends and together, create something meaningful with their lives.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
I have had an enriching experience at YAC. Firstly, I’ve acquired many skills and knowledge from our mentors and project partners, such as business models and strategies, which have improved our ability to create and lead our project. Secondly, I also enjoyed the part we got to execute our prototype webinar, Creativity with Canva, with NTUC Health, where we get to directly interact with seniors. Moreover, we are satisfied to know that seniors enjoy our session and are now able to create their very own Gift Cards.
Of course, YAC is very intense as well. So far, we’ve planned a detailed project while keeping up with the deadline.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
There have indeed been hurdles, the greatest challenge being the heavy workload. As our A-Levels approach, our academic workload gets heavier by day, which means we have less time to work on our project. I have the tendency to take on as much as I can, as I have the most experience and I am the leader. But with the increase in workload, I’ve learnt that one leader carrying everything is not the way to go. To reduce my workload, I’m learning how to communicate my ideas to my teammates and delegate roles and responsibilities based on their strengths and abilities.
Another challenge was how to improve the quality of our ideas. Our ideas started out very superficially, with plans to only provide games and bonding opportunities for seniors in senior-care centers. While it did solve the initial problem we targeted, to solve the issue of senior loneliness, it did not really explain how seniors are able to sustain their new friendships outside the activities. Neither did it truly equip seniors with valuable skills that allowed them to thrive in their golden days.
That’s when I realised that our team cannot merely depend on YAC and online research. To solve the problem, I reached out to NTUC Health and FYCS for consultation and interviews, which gave us valuable insights. We drew inspiration from FCYS ILP programme, which imparts seniors knowledge and skills. I came up with the idea of teaching seniors several skills and later, grouping them together to create their very own initiatives independently using the skills they learn.
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
We aim to get seniors to have fun with their SIG mates while they learn more about their interests, as in addition to alleviating loneliness among seniors, participating in meaningful, productive activities with others can help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function (National Institute of Aging, 2019).
Project EFE is a service that connects seniors to other seniors with similar passions. Unlike activities planned by senior-related organisations, EFE programmes aim to connect seniors to each other and educate them through our 3Cs:
- Customised activities: As SIGs are small, close-knit groups, volunteers can customise activities to suit the wants and needs of each specific SIG, unlike large-scale, one-size-fits-all activities currently carried out by senior-related service providers.
- Continuity: Seniors will continue to work together with the same group mates from the same SIGs, unlike many one-off webinars and activities currently organised by senior-related service providers.
- Online community of peers: Seniors can connect with other seniors in a scam-free virtual environment on our EFE app, unlike many face-to-face activities or one-off zooms currently conducted by senior-related service providers.
Thus, our project would better foster the formation of deeper bonds and more meaningful friendships amongst seniors, in a directed, long-term approach to alleviate loneliness amongst seniors.
At the end of our project, we hope that seniors will carry on with their initiatives. This gives them the reason to continue bonding with each other and also gives them a direction in life. As Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said, the senior population is an “untapped pool of labour”. By equipping seniors with skills and urging them to create their own initiative, they can produce something that adds value to their lives.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
The key takeaway is that for a project to be successful, we need three types of leaders: the visionary, the executor and the processor.
A visionary leader helps our project to upscale, expand and improve the quality of the service we intend to provide. Motivational speaker Josh Linkner describes a visionary as someone who is “willing to dream wildly and think ahead.” In his words, “When your organisation has a senior leader who focuses on what’s possible and breathes reinvention, you have a chance to reach those stellar, dreamed-about heights.”
By coming up with a vision to help seniors to enhance their lives, we have a clear aim of the desired outcome we want for this YAC project and can build our solutions based on that.
Executors are meticulous, disciplined people who ensure day-to-day operations go smoothly. An executor is key to ensuring precision of our work and prevents us from making mistakes.
A processor organises information thoroughly and applies it in a way that enables people to get things done. They help to sieve through information and search for opportunities, such as identifying potential partners for our project.